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California promotes composting to reduce food emissions

Banana peels, chicken bones and leftover vegetables will have no place in California trash bins under the nation’s largest mandatory residential food waste recycling program that went into effect in January. Food waste damages the atmosphere as it decomposes. As leftovers and other organic materials decompose, they release methane, a more potent and harmful greenhouse gas in a shorter time than carbon emissions from nature. fossil material. To avoid those emissions, California plans to begin turning residents’ food waste into compost or energy, becoming the second state in the US to do so after Vermont launched a similar program last year. last year. Green trash cans rather than trash cans. “This is the biggest change for food waste to compost or use it to generate biogas, an energy source similar to natural gas,” said Rachel Wagoner, director of California. Department of Recycling and Resource Recovery. This, she added, “is the easiest and fastest thing anyone can do to make an impact on climate change.” California’s push reflects growing recognition of the role food waste plays in destroying the environment across the United States, where up to 40% of food goes to waste, according to the US Department of Agriculture. Several states and countries, including France, have passed laws requiring grocery stores and other large businesses to recycle or donate excess food to charities, but its program California targets households and businesses. significantly reduce food waste. According to CalRecycle, organic materials like food and yard waste make up half of the waste in California’s landfills and one-fifth of the state’s methane emissions. Beginning January, all cities and counties that provide trash service must have food recycling programs in place, and grocery stores must donate edible food that would otherwise be thrown away. food banks or similar institutions. “There’s no reason to stick this material,” said Ned Spang, dean of the Food Loss and Waste Collaborative at the University of California, Davis. Vermont, home to 625,000 people compared with nearly California’s 40 million people, which are the only state to ban residents from throwing their food waste in the trash, Under the law that went into effect July 2020, residents can compost in their yard, choose to pick up or Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have similar programs, California law says that by 2025, the state must cut organic waste in landfills by 75% by 2025. compared with 2014 levels, or from about 23 million tons to 5.7 million tons Most local governments will allow homeowners and apartment dwellers to dump leftovers in yard trash, some providing Provide a countertop container to store trash for a few days before taking it out.Some areas may be exempt from parts of the law, such as areas a rural spot where bears rummage through trash cans. Food waste will be sent to facilities for composting or turning it into energy through anaerobic digestion, a process that produces biogas that can be used as natural gas for heating. warm and electric. Traditional green waste such as leaves and only one fifth of state facilities can now accept food waste. Supermarkets must start donating their excess food in January, and hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools and major event venues will begin to do so in 2024. Some of California’s cities already have a mandatory food recycling program. Joy Klineberg, a mother of three, puts coffee grounds, fruit peels and cooking scraps in a metal bin labeled “compost” on her countertop. When she prepares dinner, she dumps the leftovers on the cutting board into the bin. Every few days, she dumps the stuff in the green trash outside, which is then picked up and sent to a county facility. “All you’re changing is where you’re throwing stuff, it’s just another crate,” she says. “It’s really easy and it’s amazing how much less trash you have.” Implementing similar programs in larger cities presents a greater challenge. The state’s two most populous cities – Los Angeles and San Diego, which together account for about one in eight Californians – are among the cities that won’t have a program ready for all households next month. . That’s because it takes time to buy the necessary equipment, such as green trash cans for homes that don’t already have them for yard waste, and set up facilities for picking up materials. Like Davis, CalRecycle wanted to focus more on education and less punishment. Governments can avoid fines by self-reporting to states by March if they don’t have programs in place and drawing up a plan to start them. Cities that refuse to comply could end up being fined up to $10,000 per day. At the household level, cities have some discretion over penalties and can ultimately penalize those who don’t follow the rules. trash cans, kitchen top containers, and trucks to transport the additional waste. Prue hopes San Diego residents will quickly realize the importance of recycling food waste once the program begins. next summer. “Hopefully before they know it, it will become second nature,” he said.

Banana peels, chicken bones and leftover vegetables will have no place in California trash under the nation’s largest mandatory residential food waste recycling program that goes into effect in January.

The effort is designed to keep landfills in the most populous US state free of food waste that spoils the atmosphere as it decomposes. As leftovers and other organic materials decompose, they release methane, a more potent and harmful greenhouse gas in a shorter time than carbon emissions from nature. fossil material.

To avoid those emissions, California plans to start turning residents’ food waste into compost or energy, becoming the second state in the US to do so after Vermont launched a similar program last year. .

Most people in California would be asked to throw their leftovers in the green bin rather than the trash. Cities will then turn the food waste into compost or use it to create biogas, an energy source similar to natural gas.

“This is the biggest change to the bin since recycling began in the 1980s,” said Rachel Wagoner, director of the California Department of Recycling and Resource Recovery.

This, she added, “is the easiest and fastest thing anyone can do to make an impact on climate change.”

California’s push reflects growing recognition of the role food waste plays in destroying the environment across the United States, where up to 40% of food goes to waste, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Several states and countries, including France, have passed laws requiring grocery stores and other large businesses to recycle or donate excess food to charities, but the program of California targeting households and businesses.

The state passed a law in 2016 that aims to reduce methane emissions by dramatically cutting food waste. According to CalRecycle, organic materials like food and yard waste make up half of the waste in California’s landfills and one-fifth of the state’s methane emissions.

Starting in January, all cities and counties that provide trash service must have a food recycling program and grocery stores must donate edible food that would otherwise be thrown away to banks. grocery stores or similar organizations.

“There’s no point in putting this material in a landfill, it’s cheap and easy to make,” said Ned Spang, dean of the Food Loss and Waste Collaborative at the University of California, Davis. .

Vermont, home to 625,000 people compared with California’s nearly 40 million, is the only state that bans residents from throwing their food waste in the trash. Under the law that went into effect in July 2020, residents can compost their trash in their yard, choosing to pick it up or drop it off at curbside trash stations. Cities like Seattle and San Francisco have similar programs.

California law requires that by 2025, the state must cut organic waste in landfills by 75% from 2014 levels, or from about 23 million tons to 5.7 million tons.

Most local governments will allow homeowners and apartment dwellers to put leftovers in yard waste, some provide counter top containers to store the trash for a few days before taking it out. Some areas may be exempt from parts of the law, such as rural locations where bears rummage through trash cans.

Food waste will be sent to facilities to be composted or turned into energy through anaerobic digestion, a process that produces biogas that can be used in the same way as natural gas for fuel. heating and electricity.

However, composting facilities in California face a strict permitting process to take food waste along with traditional green waste such as leaves, and only one-fifth of the state’s facilities are available. Acceptable food waste.

The state also sets a goal by 2025 to send 20% of the food that will go to landfills to provide to those in need. Supermarkets must start donating their leftovers in January, and hotels, restaurants, hospitals, schools and major event venues will begin to do so in 2024.

Donations under California law will contribute towards the federal goal of cutting food waste in half by 2030.

Davis is among California cities that already have a mandatory food recycling program. Joy Klineberg, a mother of three, puts coffee grounds, fruit peels and cooking scraps in a metal bin labeled “compost” on her countertop. When she prepares dinner, she dumps the leftovers on the cutting board into the bin.

Every few days, she dumps the stuff in the green trash outside, which is then picked up and sent to a county facility. The unpleasant smell of the trash cans on the countertops wasn’t the problem, she said.

“All you’re changing is where you’re throwing stuff, it’s just another crate,” she said. “It’s really easy, and it’s amazing how much less trash you have.”

Implementing similar programs in larger cities is more challenging.

The state’s two most populous cities – Los Angeles and San Diego, which together account for about one in eight Californians – are among the cities that won’t have a program ready for all households next month. .

That’s because it takes time to buy the necessary equipment, such as green trash cans for homes that don’t already have them for yard waste, and set up facilities for picking up materials. Garbage collection fees will increase in many places.

Like Davis, CalRecycle wanted to focus more on education and less punishment. Governments can avoid fines by self-reporting to states by March if they don’t have programs in place and drawing up a plan to start them. Cities that refuse to comply could end up being fined up to $10,000 per day. At the household level, cities have some discretion over penalties and can ultimately penalize those who don’t follow the rules.

Ken Prue, deputy director of San Diego’s environmental services division, said the city spent nearly $9 million in this year’s budget buying more trash cans, kitchen receptacles and trucks to transport the amount of trash. additional waste.

Prue hopes San Diego residents will quickly realize the importance of food recycling once the program begins next summer.

“Hopefully before they know it, it will become second nature,” he said.

https://www.kcra.com/article/california-pushes-composting-lower-food-waste-emissions/38480186 California promotes composting to reduce food emissions

JOE HERNANDEZ

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